May 01, 2014, BY Heather Johns

The Senior Etiquette dinner is a popular session in Alumni Career Service's Life After Bucknell series.

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Insurance. Business dinners. Taxes. Work-life balance.

All of these (and more) are realities of life after graduation, and mastering them is essential to success. But does college actually prepare students for the "real world?" The answer for graduates of Bucknell University is a resounding yes, and it comes in the form of the Life After Bucknell program.

"Seniors are ready to put their degree to use after graduation, but they sometimes feel anxious about what else comes with leaving Bucknell — moving to a new city, finding a doctor, making decisions about loans, budgets and insurance," said Julee Bertsch, associate director of career services.

Life After Bucknell was created by Bucknell Alumni Career Services to provide seniors with practical knowledge about transitioning to work or graduate school. The program's goals are two-fold. First, it provides senior students an edge in developing their professional brands both in person and online. Second, the program offers practical knowledge to questions graduates will face in life beyond graduation.

The program started nine years ago with the Senior Etiquette Dinner. More than a lesson in which fork to use, the dinner has evolved to include a networking component with alumni, faculty and staff. Nearly 170 students participated this year.

"Life After Bucknell has helped me feel more comfortable and knowledgeable about entering the work world on my own," said Emily Hochman '14. "It has helped me feel comfortable — and not be surprised or naive when paying my first bills, receiving my first paycheck after taxes or figuring out which health care system is the right one for me."

Part of the program's continued success comes from its flexibility. Life After Bucknell grows and changes to keep pace with the issues seniors face after graduation.

Over time, a personal finance series was added to cover budgeting, saving and investing. A partnership with International Student Services delivered a cultural awareness event called A Trip Around the World.

"More recently we have covered health options — finding a doctor, what insurance coverages mean, eating healthy — and also a personal online branding component using LinkedIn," added Bertsch.

"Bucknell students have an amazing amount of resources on campus that they may not have after graduation," said Michel Ajjan '14. "To me, Life After Bucknell is all about being informed, and paving the way to a more independent life. Having that knowledge gives students the power to be better organized and more informed about the decisions they will make in the 'real world.'"